Pregnancy is a beautiful phase that every woman dreams about in her life. However, this might be the same for teenage girls who get pregnant. Teenage pregnancy could be quite risky and affect the mental and physical health of the mothers and also their babies. Let us know more about teenage pregnancy, and the medical risks involved with it, and also know about the essential care and support that are required for teenage mothers.
Teenage Pregnancy: An Overview
Teenage pregnancy is pregnancy in women who are below nineteen years of age. It is also known as adolescent pregnancy. A girl or woman who had sexual intercourse after the start of ovulation or after achieving maturity can get pregnant. Though it has many risks involved with it, teenage pregnancy is extensively seen in the U.S.
In the United States, teenage pregnancies have touched their height, though now the number has declined, still it remains higher than in other developed and industrialized countries.
According to the CDC or Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, in 2017, about 194, 000 babies were born to American girls who were between the age groups of 15 to 19 years.
Medical Risks Involved With Teenage Pregnancy
Pregnant teen mothers and their unborn babies have certain medical risks with their teenage pregnancy.
Medical Risks For Teenage Mothers Involved With Teenage Pregnancy
Giving birth in the U.S. is quite safe. However, for a teenager, it is still more dangerous than for a woman above 20 years of age. The WHO, World Health Organization, has mentioned that various complications and risks involved during pregnancy or childbirth have become the leading cause of death globally for girls within the age group of 15 to 19 years.(2)
Below we will take a look at the medical risks for teenage mothers that are involved with teenage pregnancy.
Lack Of Prenatal Care
Pregnant teenagers do not get the right prenatal care, particularly if they do not get appropriate care and support from their parents during their pregnancy.
Prenatal care is essential, primarily during the first trimester. Monitoring the mother’s and baby’s health and growth, looking for appropriate treatments for any medical issues in the mother or the growing baby, and dealing with any complications that might arise during teenage pregnancy can be possible with prenatal care.
Pregnant mothers need to take prenatal vitamins and folic acids which are essential for preventing specific birth defects in the newborn, like neural tube defects. However, teenage pregnancies can keep teen mothers away from this prenatal care, if they do not have supportive parents.
High Blood Pressure Issues
Teenage pregnancy can bring a medical risk of getting high blood pressure in pregnant teenagers. This is known as pregnancy-induced hypertension. As compared to women who get pregnant at an age above 20 years, teenagers who get pregnant also have a higher risk of preeclampsia, which is a serious medical condition.
Medical Risk Of STDs
For teenage mothers who have sex during pregnancy, Sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and Chlamydia are a serious concern. These STDs can be prevented by using a latex condom during sexual intercourse.
Post Paturm Depression
Many pregnant women suffer from postpartum depression, at this is for real. However, according to the CDC, pregnant teenagers might be at higher risk of getting postpartum depression. This can not only impact their health but also interfere with taking proper care of their newborn.
Medical Risks For Babies Involved With Teenage Pregnancy
Premature Baby Birth
A healthy pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. However, when babies are delivered before 37 weeks of pregnancy, they are premature babies.
Teenage mothers are more likely to have premature babies.(3)
These premature babies lack complete development in their brains and bodies. Sometimes the difficulties with the health and development of premature babies can lead to lifelong issues.
One more risk for the babies of teenage mothers is that they are more likely to have low birth weight or are underweight. Babies who are born at a birth weight of 3.3 to 3.5 pounds are considered to be underweight or babies with low birth weight.
Low birth weight can affect brain development and children who were born underweight can probably have learning difficulties.(4)
Infants born to teenage mothers are also at serious risk of infant mortality. This is the most dangerous and unwanted medical risk involved with teenage pregnancy.
Care and Support For Pregnant Teenagers
Due to the risks involved with teenage pregnancy, pregnant teenage mothers need extra care during their pregnancy and also during parenting.
Take The Teenage Mother To A Gynecologists As Early As Can
Teenage mothers need to see their gynecologists as early as possible. So, for a healthy pregnancy, take teen mothers for early and regular antenatal care. The doctor would confirm the pregnancy and also have some general health checkups.
Look Into Teen-Specific Antenatal Care
Look with the doctor if there is any local antenatal service provider who is experienced in working with pregnant teen mothers.
Antenatal services that are experienced in providing services to teenagers who get pregnant, can understand the appropriate need of the pregnant teenager. These services have lots of experienced doctors, social workers, midwives, dieticians, counselors, and mental health workers who work together and can provide the best care and support to the would-be teen mother.
Take The Teenage Would-be Mother To Antenatal Classes
You can take the teenage pregnant mother to antenatal classes which are conducted in various hospitals. They would get detailed information about labor, childbirth, breastfeeding, and early parenting tips.
Keep Them Away From Alcohol, Drugs, and Cigarettes
While taking care of pregnant teenagers make sure not to allow them to drink alcohol, smoke, or take drugs during their pregnancy or even after their childbirth. This could impact their child a lot.
Give Them The Essential Emotional Support
Teenage pregnancy can make it difficult for the teenage mother to stay normal, especially when they are meeting with so much physical, mental, and emotional distress. This is the time when they need the utmost emotional support. So, give them the essential emotional support that they need. Be present with them and help them deal with the pressure of pregnancy and parenting.
Help The Teenage Mothers To Finish Their Studies
If pregnant teenager is studying and willing to continue their studies, make sure to give them the best support and care so that they can finish school or college. Education would help them in long run.
Teenage pregnancy is not something any woman or girl would want for themselves. However, if such circumstances occur where teenagers get pregnant and want to keep their babies then they must be taken very good care of. Though teenagers can also deliver healthy babies quite safely, many health risks are involved with teenage pregnancy. But again, with proper medical attention, prenatal care, expert advice, and support, they can also safely give birth to healthy babies.